Monday, September 1, 2008

The Most Personal Aside: A Midsummer’s “Vacation” in Arlington Heights.

So, where do you think I spent the finest week of the summer…beginning on the 19th of August? In sunny Arlington Heights, that’s where, at scenic, voluptuous, scandalously decadent Northwest Community Hospital.

8/18 I posted my last entry in this place on my radio guest earlier that night— one James Merriner, author of a yet to be published book of a man James R. Thompson hopes to be beatified for emptying death row. If not beatified at least PARDONED by a soon-to-depart George W. Bush. The subject of Merriner’s book is, memorably, “The Man Who Emptied Death Row,” …who else but the infamous former Governor George Ryan whose corrupt secretary of state’s office took money to conferring commercial drivers’ licenses on anyone who would pay for them—this resulting in an illegal alien driving a truck in Milwaukee and, unable to understand English, failing to understand a warning shouted by a bypasser that a piece of iron was falling from the rear-end of his truck…the piece striking the car immediately behind, triggering an explosion that burned six children alive, a cataclysm for which it didn’t move the insensate Ryan to apologize to the children’s surviving parents. There, said I, that will take care of Mr. Merriner and his thinly veiled George Ryan backers, Big Jim foremost, trying to spring him early.

8/19--But re-reading this posting on the morning of the 19th in my basement where the computer is housed, I felt sweaty, oddly lethargic, then shivering. I went upstairs, cancelled appointments and went to bed. At 10 a.m. I needed more blankets; at 11 I tossed them off as sweat rolled off me. Vowing to sleep it off, I took my temperature at 2 p.m.: 102. Got up and decided, to hell with it, I’m going to the ER. They gave me dosage, blood tests, temperature tests, BP tests. BP was at an astoundingly low 89/58. Temperature: 101. Gradually both indices changed—temp to 99, BP to 103/58. Blood tests indeterminate. Doctor signed me out on promise to see my internist the next morn. Went home, fell into bed, slept the sleep of the dead but woke up to 102 fever.

8/20-- Went to the doctor’s office. Going in the front door, I turned faint, began to topple. Guy behind me caught me, saving a bad fall. I signed in, hade my BP taken—an amazing 87/57. Temp: 102. Internist: Stay right where you are, my friend. You’re going nowhere on your own. I’m calling the paramedics to get you to the hospital where you should have stayed in the first place. At hospital ER they say what? You again? Assigned to Room 557. Sleep; awaken to see female face with beautiful cheekbones. I am from Infectious Diseases. Just checked your blood. Blood is supposed to be bacteria free. In each droplet of yours there is a blooming jungle rain forest hot-house of bacteria…I mean budding blooms and green leaves with friendly bees buzzing about. Where did you get this, do you think? Oh, you were just here a month ago with pneumonia were you not? Sure could have been here. Or anywhere else. Infection of the blood comes from an open wound. What’s this? You pulled a piece of dry skin from your thumb. See it’s all reddened. Anyhow this is all academic. We’ve got to find out where this rain forest derives its source. You’re going to be punctured often tonight as we take your blood. See you tomorrow. Huh? You say just this very same practice of blood-taking could have sent you here tonight? Hey, hospitals are a dangerous place—face it…but we need the blood to study more. Go to sleep.

8/21—Am supposed to be guest of honor at birthday party—80—called by friend Phil Krone at the Cliff Dwellers. Have to beg off. I call Bruce DuMont, one of the attendees and express regrets to Phil. Answer: the party goes on as planned without you. One of the guests, Anne Burke, my favorite Burke because of how she stood up to the bishops blows a kiss via the phone. Sleep. Beautiful Cheekbones again from Infectious Diseases. You have two virulent bacteria; we’ve identified them. We are suspicious that they’re rooted in the aortic heart valve which you had replaced in your 2004 bypass. New valve made of pig gut. One of 50 report the pig valve is culprit. Back to you soon. Sleep. Nurse: your BP is still low—92 the top number, temp 101. Hold still we’re putting in a catheter…WHOOOOOOOOEEEE! There. Didn’t hurt did it. By the way Biden’s Obama’s pick. Your BP just tumbled, temp zoomed.

8/22—Blood pressure finally normal; temp normal. Keep it that way. Beautiful Cheekbones from Infectious Diseases. Yeah, it’s confirmed—located in the prosthetic aortic valve. Going in to replace it out of the question right now. Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to give you a PIC meaning we’re going to take you downstairs and insert a long, tiny tubular wire no thicker than a hair in your nostril…but hollow…starting at your left elbow and push it up while we direct its progress on a TV monitor. Up-up the tiny tubular will go up past your left shoulder and circle it around and move it centerward to your heart where we loop it next to that pig valve at the aorta. Once that’s in place we’re pinpoint bomb it with antibiotics for six weeks straight, every day. But first we have to keep that fever down and get BP up.

8/23—Chorus of professional voices. Damn, BP’s normal but temp’s not. Meanwhile we’ll bombard it by mouth but it’s not as good. Help us on the BP now. Shut off the Dem convention. Why were you on the phone so much? Getting who to replace you Sunday? Dan P-r-o-f-t? Who’s he? No I don’t know him. I listen only to WFMT…a little WBEZ. Yeah I wonder why we’re saving you too. Anyhow let’s beat that high temp and keep BP steady.

8/24—Yay! BP and temp normal…right on the button. Keep it that way and we’ll go spinning the narrow wire tomorrow. Night-night. By the way what’s wrong with your food tray. Haven’t touched it. Oh. I see. Agreed.

8/25—Did we wake you up too early? You’re in the special x-ray. I had to rescue you from all those libs so we can talk. You’re going to be around for this election. No, I don’t think Biden’s so hot. You know what would happen to me if I started fooling with MY resume. See this fellow? He’s an MD of x-ray, yes we’ve got `em. He’s going to direct this process and you’re going to be awake. Just relax, that’s it. TV SCREEN LOOMS. New voice: Charlie, ready? Here it goes. Tiny wire grasping upward, like a fast motion plant sprig…up up up. No, a little to the left Charlie. To the left more. That’s it. The sprig advances on a big pulsating orange. I: “What’s that?” That’s your big compassionate conservative Republican heart, my boy—a little to the left Charlie. That’s it. That’s it. Circle it now and come on down to that thing, curl up to it and give it a kiss. That’s right. Complete. Now inoculate this guy against the liberals on his 5th floor all right? Good job. NEXT!

8/26—Beautiful Cheekbones from Infectious Diseases: You’re getting out today. You’re going to get six weeks of antibiotic bombardment through the tiny wire inserted in you…seven days a week for six weeks…an hour and a half a crack after which you’re free to roam. We’ll keep checking your blood. Charlie and the guys in the basement who inserted the wire say `bye and they’ll start listening to you on WLS as will I and don’t tell `em but I already have been. All of us like your political stories so much we’re pulling your way. But keep on fighting the infection now will ya?


  1. Welcome back! I am glad to see another post on your blog after your recent absence. I hope that you continue to progress and make a complete recovery from your blood infection.

  2. We missed your posts a lot. Called WLS to inquire about you. We always enjoy your gutsy,enlightening,and most of all amusing posts like today's. Hope you're feeling better.Please keep on fighting. We'll pray for you.

  3. Keep fighting it, to continued improvement and more of your stories.

    God Bless

  4. Glad to see you are back.

  5. Great to know you are on the mend!
    Please don't waste keystrokes about that buffoon Biden. What do you think about McCain's pick?

    I happen to think it is the greatest surprise since Lee & Jackson flanked the Union Army at Chancellorsville.